Meet Debut Author Jenness Walker

Author Jenness Walker is happy to be part of the Steeple Hill family. Her story, Déjà Vu, which won first place in the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest, is an upcoming Love Inspired Suspense release.

By day, Jenness cleans houses; by night, she writes award-winning romance. She finds inspiration in cheesecake, chocolate and her beverage of choice, Mountain Dew.

Jenness is married to a website designer/computer guru. They have two beautiful children (of the laptop variety—not babies) named Cindy (short for Hyacinth) and Igger. They also have a part-time dog and a love for picnicking with subs from the local deli. Home is a bit of property in sunny Florida.

And now, join me as we embark on an adventure—getting to know more about this talented author and her debut novel.

Jenness Walker

Jenness Walker

•Jenness, with a minor in creative writing, I’d guess you’ve been interested in crafting fiction for some time. When did you begin writing your first novel? What led you to write romance?

I’ve been writing short stories and scenes from longer ones all my life, but I began writing my first novel my senior year of college. Not sure exactly why I started then, since I was student teaching, doing correspondence courses, and figuring out how to be a wife. 🙂 But I had to know if I could really write a book clear through—kind of important for someone who always dreamed of being a novelist. It took over a year, but I did it. Most of what I read has at least a little bit of romance in it, so it was natural to write it.

•I read that you’ve completed four stories and have three more underway. You write for multiple sub-genres, having taken first place in the Genesis Romantic Suspense category in 2008 and third in the Chick/Mom/Hen/Lady Lit category with Bliss in 2007 with co-author Tracy Bowen. What is it about those sub-genres that appeal to you? Do you write in others? Now that you’ve sold a romantic suspense, will you focus your attention on that category?

I love different kinds of books, depending on my mood, so I guess that’s why my ideas are all over the map. But for now what I’m doing is limiting myself to writing light-hearted stuff with Tracy, romantic suspense for Steeple Hill, and snatching a few moments here and there to work on some serious full-length ideas that won’t leave me alone.

•Writing a novel can be a huge undertaking for any writer, but working with a co-author adds another set of considerations. How do you and Tracy decide who does what? Who has final say when decisions have to be made? Have you continued to collaborate, or are you concentrating on your solo stories?

Tracy and I still work together—we’re writing a new story while we wait to hear back about Bliss. We really love writing together, and our system seems to work well. We brainstorm the basic plot together, and then Tracy writes the bare bones of a section and sends it to me. I tweak it and flesh it out before I send it back to her. Then, when the story is done, we have a weekend editing retreat.

So far, we’ve agreed on almost everything, but when decisions have to be made, we take turns having the final say. Besides just enjoying the whole working relationship with Tracy, co-authoring humorous stories gives me a much-needed change of pace from the more intense stuff I usually write.

•When you and Tracy heard your name announced at the 2007 ACFW Genesis Awards Ceremony, you must have been so excited. What went through your mind? Your success continued. In 2008, you made the stroll to the stage once again, this time on your own to accept first place in your category. Were you just as excited as the year before or even more so?

In many ways, I was probably more excited about the 2007 contest. Tracy and I hadn’t been working together very long, and as the more experienced writer, I was so afraid that I was leading her astray. So, placing in the contest helped to assure me that I wasn’t letting her down and that we made a good team. On the other hand, I was so glad we didn’t place first, because I didn’t have a speech prepared and was petrified I’d get up front and forget everything but my name. It’s happened before. 🙂

So, last year the nervousness about giving a speech kind of outweighed the excitement of winning first. The speech ended up going okay, except of all the many people (and even laptops!) that I thanked, I forgot to mention my agent. Still apologizing for that one. I love you, Tamela! 🙂

Both wins were an honor. The coolest thing about placing was when I found out the winners were listed on the CBD website. That was special because I’d been promising my dad ever since I was ten or so that someday I’d be in that catalog. So, making it to the website brought me a step closer to fulfilling that promise.

Jenness with her agent, Tamela Murray, from the Hartline Agency.

Jenness with her agent, Tamela Murray, from the Hartline Literary Agency at the 2008 ACFW Awards Banquet.

•I’m sure 2008 will hold a special place in your memories as being the year of milestones. You took that first in the Genesis, but that was but a precursor of even greater things to come. You got a ginormous Christmas present this past December. You got The Call! I can’t get my fill of call stories, so please share yours. Where were you when it came? How did you react? What did you do to celebrate?

Truth is, I was in the shower when my cell phone rang. Later, I checked the message and saw it was from my agent, but I resisted the urge to call her right back until I was ready for the day. I had a good guess why she’d called and wasn’t sure if I’d run outside and jump up and down or what, so I figured being presentable would probably be the best plan of action. When I called her back, the line was busy. Go figure.

To celebrate, I ran to Wendy’s and bought myself a Frosty Float. Ha! But later, when I got my first check, my husband took me to Cheesecake Factory for lunch. I’m going to have to sell more books just so I can go there more often. 🙂

•I smiled when I saw on your blog that you’re “a list person,” since I’m one too. How does this aspect of your personality work its way into your writing? Are you a plotter who completes a story outline, creates exhaustive character charts, and meticulously documents her research in alphabetized files? Or do you forgo your natural tendencies and allow your hero and heroine to take over, leading to unexpected twists and turns?

Actually, I don’t do well with outlines or charts. They intimidate me. I jot down ideas as they come, I sometimes write scenes out of order … I’m really not a very organized person (just ask my husband), so my fascination with lists might just be an extension of the compulsion to write. 🙂

My favorite part of writing is when I’m trucking along, doing my thing, and all of a sudden something clicks—the light bulb moment where I see exactly how one thread fits into another, or how the ending ties up the story in a way that’s better than anything I could have planned beforehand. Absolutely love that feeling

•Please tell us about your debut novel, Déjà Vu.

Déjà Vu is kind of a book-within-a-book. A best-selling thriller pits an evil man against a random woman in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse sure to hit the big screen someday. But first it’s played out in real life when a fan becomes obsessed. The target is MacKenzie. Cole figures out what’s going on, and in a race against time, he and Kenzie try to discover the villain’s identity. But when the trap fails, they realize their adversary is no longer going by the book. How will the story end?

Déjà Vu, a Love Inspired Suspense, is scheduled to release in October.

•Jenness, here’s a fun question for you. You’ve had a positive experience working with your co-author, Tracy, and have seen the value of collaboration. If you were given the opportunity to choose any author, past or present, with whom to write a book, whom would it be and what would the story be about?

That’s a hard one! So many favorites to choose from … I’m afraid I would be too intimidated to work with most established authors at this point. But if I could just borrow a pinch of their strengths … I’d take Charles Martin’s talent for creating vivid word pictures, Dean Koontz’s ability to add touches of humor and still keep the nail-biting tension, Kristen Heitzmann’s skill for making her characters grab your heart and hang on even after you close the book … Oh, there are so many more I’d like to learn from. But work with …? Give me a few more years of practice first. 🙂

It’s been great having you as my guest, Jenness. And now, in closing, is there a final comment you’d like to make or a question you’d like to ask?

I’m taking an informal poll. 🙂 In a mystery or suspense, do you like reading the bad guy’s point-of-view so you have insider information on his diabolical plan? Or would you prefer to know he’s out there somewhere but be surprised along with the other characters about who he is and what he’s going to do next?

Thanks so much for having me, Keli!

Learn More About Jenness

Visit her Web site: www.jennesswalker.com

Friend her on Facebook – Jenness Walker

Leave a Comment for Your Chance to Win!

I’ll choose a winner from those who leave a comment for Jenness on 3/12 or 13 (and include an email address when prompted, which I don’t share), and will post the winner’s name on 3/14.

The winner is Cathy West. She had her choice of one of these elegant pocket note pads from Punch Studio. Each matchbook-style pad with magnetic closure is 3 x 4 inches.

Believe Notepad

Dream Notepad

Love NotepadSuccess Notepad

.

You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook!

If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by your blog hostess, Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and March 31. Make sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.

On April 1, Keli will choose one person who will have her choice of five covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your “firstborn” in your hands.

(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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23 Responses to Meet Debut Author Jenness Walker

  1. Keli Gwyn says:

    Welcome, Jenness! It’s great to have the opportunity to get to know more about you and your writing.

    I like a writer to keep the identity of the culprit a secret so I have the fun of trying to figure out who done it. So, I’m casting a vote for the surprise ending.

  2. Great interview! Congrats on your sale Jenness. How awesome. 🙂 I like Charles Martin and Heitzmann too. Great writers there. I hope everything goes good with Bliss so you can take another trip to the cheesecake factory! 🙂

  3. Lynda says:

    Yay, Jenness! I’m honored to call you my crit partner. Can’t wait to walk in a bookstore and see your novel on the shelf. Wonderful interview – but then, I’d expect nothing less. You rock! (And thanks, Keli, for bringing it to us. Great questions!)

  4. Hey Jeness, congrats on your sale. I can’t wait to read your story. Tamela’s my agent too and I think she’s the best! Again congrats!

    Lynette

  5. Kit says:

    Hi Keli! Hi Jeness and congrats on your debut novel and all your contests wins. Your LIS sounds like a great story. Can’t wait to read it.

    And as for me, I prefer the villain to be a surprise. Although I have read several novels with the antogonist’s POV and they have been very well done…like Mary Higgins Clark can sometimes do her villian POV and somehow you are still surprised at the end. But mostly and especially in RS I prefer the focus on the hero and heroine.

  6. Dixie says:

    I can’t believe I’m a friend of such a brilliant writer! So excited for Jenness. Such a sweet, quiet lady–never would have dreamed there was a “suspenseful” mind at work. Can’t wait to get my hands on it. Bravo! In answer to your poll–I prefer to keep the bad guy at bay. If I get too close to him I try to figure him out too quickly and lose a little of the drama.But that’s just my opinion.

  7. Great interview! How fun! Thanks for sharing Jenness. Get ready for our tour, girl!! HAHA! =)

  8. Paul says:

    Jenness,
    One step closer to CBD! That was a wonderful interview, and I believe you have a great agent. Keep writing, but don’t put too many of my secrets in there! I love you – and keeping the villian a secret would be my choice, although the other way works too.
    Dad

  9. Cathy West says:

    Keli is very smart to pick such a great author to interview.
    Well after working with you for a few years, Jen, I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later! I’m thrilled for you and of course can’t wait to hold your book in my hands…hopefully by then I will have forgotten the story so I can read it…haha, just kidding, I’ll read it. I only hope that now you’re a famous author you won’t forget all about your friends still down in the trenches…
    Congratulations! xoxo

  10. Lynn Rush says:

    Great interview. What a fun story. I’m so happy for you.

    Oh, and to your question, I want to be surprised. Now, suspense is not a genre I read a lot of, but I’ve read a few…..I like to be surprised along with the characters.

    I’ll be back later today, I want to see what others say too. Congrats on your sale. That’s so exciting!!

  11. Tracy says:

    Thanks for all the nice things you said about me! I suppose I’ll keep working with you if you promise to continue this trend in future interviews.:)

    So proud of your success! Can’t wait to buy that first book!

  12. Holly says:

    Great interview! Can’t wait for Deja Vu to come out; I’d better start saving up for all the copies I want to buy for friends!

    I like the “mystery” of not knowing what’s coming, but I also think it adds depth to see the “bad guy’s” perspective.

  13. Congrats on your first sale!
    It’s sure to be the first of many!

    Keeping the villain a secret adds to the suspense, but using the villain’s POV without actually identifying his specific name/character can be even creepier – we’d be in his head without knowing which character he actually is!

  14. Dana says:

    Jennesse,
    I gotta say, I loved reading this. It gave me such a sense of accomplishment for you! I am sooooo PROUD of ya! My friend is gonna be a published author! maybe me and you will have a chance to work together someday, like we did in creative writing class! 🙂 Good luck…I’ll be sure to be one of the first to buy your book behind, Dr. & Mrs. Peak, Ben-Ben and Anthony, Oh and can’t forget Jason 🙂 Love ya.

  15. Jenness says:

    Keli, thanks so much for doing this! It was fun. And everyone else, thanks for taking the time to read the interview and give me your opinion on bad guys. 🙂 Appreciate your input. Have a great weekend!

  16. Keli – Great choice for an author, as usual.

    Jenness – I’m so happy for you and can hardly wait until I see your book on the shelf this fall! You’re great at writing any genre you set your mind to and I know Deja Vu will be the first of many books you’ll have on CBD.

    Give me a shout whenever you’re near Atlanta and we’ll head to the Cheesecake Factory! 🙂

  17. Jenness, I’m so proud of you I could just… well, give me a few minutes and I’ll come up with something that isn’t cliche.:)

    As members of the same critique group, I could see that Jenness was headed for great things, and after sharing the Genisis 2008 winner’s circle with her, I’m wasn’t at all surprised to see her celebratory announcement shortly after she “got the call.”

    While I’m not by any means a prophet, I predict that we’ll see many,many more excellent volumes spring from her talented–and occasionally twisted–creative mind.

    Congratulations, Jenness!

    D.

  18. Valerie says:

    Jenness,

    Congratulations! I am very happy for you and anxious to read your book.

    For the most part, I like it when I am surprised about who the villian is.

    I am proud of you!

    Aunt Valerie

  19. Congrats on your first sale, Jeness!

  20. Heather Baldwin says:

    Jenness,

    Wow! This is a great interview. Congrats on the book. I like the surprise ending for the most part. But there are sometimes when it interesting to know what the villian is thinking. However, I don’t think characters should be portrayed as “mind readers”. You know, when the guy always knows exactly what the girl is thinking, without her ever saying how she’s feeling. I think teens now adays watch videos and read books where a friendship is based off of “reading each other’s thoughts”. So they get frustrated when it doesn’t work in their own relationships. Our culture definately needs to know that in real life, relationships are successful with communication. I can’t wait til Hannah is old enough to read your books. YEAH!

  21. Susan L says:

    Great interview, Jenness! I can’t wait to read your book! I’ve already told our Westfield library about your contract. They carry the Steeple Hill line so were excited also!! Congrats again!

  22. Keli Gwyn says:

    Jenness, I enjoyed having you as my guest. I wish you much success as you launch your career as a published author.

    Thanks to everyone who stopped by and left a comment for Jenness. I held the drawing, and the winner is Cathy West. She has her choice of one of the elegant matchbook-style notepads.

    Congrats, Cathy! I’ll be in touch.

  23. Jenness says:

    Thanks again, everyone, for your kind remarks…Well, most of them were kind. (You think I have a twisted mind, Dan?? lol. I guess you might be right.) Happy reading!

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